STATE auditors have said that the Sécurité Sociale should look at ending the reimbursement of expenses for spectacles and contact lenses as a way of easing the benefits budget deficit.
It said that Sécu reimbursements were just a tiny fraction of the €5.3billion annual spending on spectacles and contact lenses, with the vast bulk of reimbursements - €3.6bn - coming from complementary insurances and just €200million from the Sécu.
The rest is paid by customers, with the average price of a pair of glasses varying from €304-€589, depending on the type of lens. Patients who have mutuelle insurance pay an average of €81 per pair, while those without insurance pay an average €394.
French optical costs are much higher than in the rest of Europe, with the average annual cost per inhabitant being €88 – compared to €54 in Germany, €49 in the UK and €30 in Spain.
The audit body Cour des Comptes says that the reimbursement system needs to be entirely rethought and integrated into President Hollande’s plans for an overall health insurance plan that would see employers offering staff health cover.
It also said that opticians and mutuelles were both responsible for the high cost of spectacles: opticians charged up to the reimbursement limit of the mutuelle and the insurers simply increased premiums to match.
In April the consumer group UFC Que Choisir said opticians had an average mark-up of 233%.
Watchdog attacks high cost of specs
Stop eyewear refunds – Afflelou
Photo: Delphimages - Fotolia.com